Karnataka eyes Rs.200-billion investments in tourism sector

Bangalore, March 8 (IANS) Karnataka Monday unveiled an ambitions master plan to attract Rs.200 billion (Rs.20,000 crore) investments in the tourism sector over the next five years to make the picturesque state a frontline destination for domestic and overseas tourists.

‘We have drawn up a master plan based on the 2020 vision document for a comprehensive development of tourism across the state. The 10-year plan will be implemented under the public-private partnership (PPP) model, with more investments from private capital,’ Tourism and Infrastructure Development Minister G. Janardhana Reddy said at an event here.

The master plan attempts to identify the economic contribution of the traveller economy directly and indirectly through the value chain. It also highlights the socio-economic policy objectives such as regeneration, social and economic inclusion, enhancing skills and employment.

‘One of the objectives is to generate about 200,000 jobs direct and indirect over the next five years through various initiatives in the tourism industry. Unlike in the IT sector, where jobs are largely concentrated in the urban areas, jobs in the tourism sector are inclusive, dispersed throughout the state and are entrepreneurial,’ Reddy said.

The state government has allocated Rs.250 crore in the budget for ensuing fiscal (2010-11) towards development of tourism infrastructure in the state in collaboration with the private sector.

‘The investments will be in integrated theme parks and theme cities that will be self contained, supporting planned communities with minimum carbon footprint for showcasing the state as Green Karnataka. We will also preserve and showcase the rich culture and heritage of the state,’ Reddy said after launching ‘Southern Splendour’, a week-long luxury tourist train service that links Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Puducherry and Kerala.

According to Haselfre Solutions Ltd chairman and managing director N. Janardhan, who drafted the master plan in association with the Karnataka State Tourism Development Corp (KSTDC), safe and hassle free travel for tourists is a critical influencer on the attractiveness of a destination.

‘Different disaster scenarios have been identified in the master plan and a crisis management plan has been crafted to begin with for the Golden Chariot, the luxury train journey that takes travellers through Karnataka and Goa,’ Janardhan noted.

The master plan also focuses on real time governance and coordinated action by institutions to meet the specific needs of the tourism sector to make Karnataka the ‘numero uno’ state in the country in tourism arrivals, capital inflows for infrastructure development and creation of tourist eco system.

‘Tourism has the potential to be a key economic driver of the state. The five-fold path in the master plan will create thousands of jobs while attracting investments in the sector,’ Reddy added.

The state tourism department plans to set up a special purpose vehicle for speedy processes of investment proposals.

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